Consumers in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) lead the world in their preference for AI-driven customer experiences, but brands aren’t meeting these expectations.
Adobe’s ‘State of Digital Customer Experience’ report was recently released, and the company gathered a panel of executive leaders to mark its launch, including representatives of Tribal DDB Worldwide, FIFA and Adobe itself.
The report shows that there is some major catching up to be done by brands, with only six percent of ANZ brands deploying or piloting generative AI to enhance CX initiatives. A substantial 39 percent of ANZ consumers would take the option of an AI-enabled tool or interaction instead of engaging with a human, and many more want both options available as they engage with new services.
“Preferences for AI-assisted brand interactions are emerging as consumers see the potential benefits of generative AI,” says Katrina Troughton, vice president and managing director for Adobe ANZ.
ANZ brands aren’t matching consumer interest or global adoption
The optimism of ANZ consumers is such that it tops the globe, making it all the more noteworthy that our brands are in a contrasting position.
The six percent of ANZ brands deploying or piloting generative AI to enhance CX initiatives compares to 18 percent globally. Brands in Europe and the US are also around twice as likely to already have dedicated AI budgets, and internal usage policies are more than three times as prevalent.
“While ANZ brands are slower to launch generative AI initiatives than others globally, it’s their number one strategic focus for enhancing customer experience,” says Troughton.
Forty-three percent of ANZ brands stated that integrating generative AI was their primary CX objective.
The complicated business case of AI
One factor, however, is complicating further development of this trend.
Both the report and the panel of executives concur that data privacy concerns are generating hesitancy within organisations. Yet this is “healthy scepticism”, at least according to national managing director of Tribal DDB Davy Rennie.
“When we’re reviewing our policies of gen AI, it’s in line with existing security policies that do place data security at the heart of the organisation,” he says.
“That will never be a bad thing. So if it does take a little longer for us to figure things out, then great. We don’t want to be an early adopter and jump in with two feet in the shallow end, then we’ve got a mess to clean up as we go forward.”
Eric Hall, Adobe VP and CMO of digital experience, agrees that the rapid development of AI is something organisations can’t keep up with as they must maintain appropriate caution.
“Businesses need to worry about the commercial viability and safety of anything they use with AI. That’s an issue that needs to be addressed,” he says.
Hall points to uncertainties in the origin of used data as a common source of issues, including the chance that information scraped from the internet is not “commercially safe or allowable”.
Data governance not up to scratch
Contrasting levels of data governance across the globe reveal trends of apprehension within organisations that exist primarily within less protected environments.
APAC digital strategy lead at Adobe Sheerien Salindera highlighted the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a strict privacy framework, as a factor in the higher adoption rates of that region, since businesses were required to implement stronger data frameworks when it was introduced some years ago. These organisations were prepared for such a development as AI.
“In Australia and New Zealand, 51 percent of organisations have recently restructured their data governance versus 39 percent in Europe,” she says, describing the flurry of activity as a process of “catching up”.
Salindera also noted that organisations operating across regions need to be more prepared.
COO of FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia New Zealand 2023, Jane Fernandez, pointed to the need for a cultural shift before a possible introduction of AI, especially in a large organisation. She noted that the technology wasn’t used at the recent tournament.
“I think FIFA are looking and potentially testing the technology at youth tournaments, which is a good way to do that,” says Fernandez.
“You can see this is starting to get into the tournaments, so it’s into sport, and for 2026, the FIFA Men’s World Cup in the US, Canada and Mexico, I know that [using AI is] the vision.”
Read the full ‘State of Digital Customer Experience’ report.
Cover image attributed to Adobe and event image to David Thomson Photography.